Agreement between DTZ and janitor’s union ignored by administration

The Tufts Labor Coalition has accused the Tufts administration of betraying a recent agreement between Tufts janitors and their union, SEIU. The plan would have delayed staff cuts until students return in the fall. In a public statement, released on June 9, the student advocacy group said, “…the administration [has] reneged on this agreement and has proceeded with layoffs…”

This accusation came after the university published an announcement on June 8 announcing six janitors would be receiving layoff notices from DTZ immediately with the remaining cuts occurring over the next three months. (Though, these numbers have since been questioned.)

In the most recent agreement, according to a union source and several TLC members, DTZ and SEIU had agreed on a plan which would delay all permanent layoffs until late August. This strategy was based on the stipulation in the contract between SEIU and DTZ which said staff must be laid off based on seniority, with the newest hires being laid off first.

The agreement, according to TLC, would allow senior janitorial staff to volunteer for temporary summer layoffs. With senior staff laid off temporarily, the newer staff’s layoffs would then be delayed until August. As the school year began, the senior staff would return to work and the less senior staff would be laid off permanently.

According to a union source, who requested their name not be used, and TLC, DTZ was the party to originally suggest the agreement. The union responded by accepting the terms.

Despite this apparent agreement on the strategy from both DTZ and SEIU, the strategy wasn’t implemented and university administrators didn’t reference it in their update.

For TLC organizer, Sofia Adams, the university’s stance reflects a lack of willingness to recognize the consequences of the cuts. In an interview, she said, “The administration is responsible for the actions of DTZ because they employ DTZ.”

The university chose not to comment on why this agreement wasn’t implemented or referenced in their update. University spokesperson, Kim Thurler, did say, in an email, that the administration was not involved in any such agreement.

DTZ could not be reached for comment.

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I am a photojournalist and digital reporter with an interest in media innovation, digital platforms, and political systems. I make pictures and report on labor.

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